This poetry pamphlet follows a long tradition of ‘response poems’ and is a collaboration between Valerie Morton and Karen Dennison. It alternates between real and imagined voices, creating a two-way poetic conversation that explores the nature of identity, loss, regret and emotional healing.
Valerie is the author of two poetry collections – Mango Tree (2013) and Handprints (2015) – both published by Indigo Dreams Publishing, and her poems have appeared in a variety of magazines and anthologies. She is the publisher of Elephant (A Poetry of Elephants) edited by Rebecca Gethin. Since 2017 she has been Poet in Residence at a Hertfordshire Pinetum. She is a member of Ver Poets.
For a Short Time
We might have held hands, danced
around each other, toes touching
in the liquid ballroom of a womb.
Thirty years too late I learn of you –
that I needn’t have feared
my shadow or frowned when mother
looked past me at something I couldn’t see
but felt I should.
I’ve sensed your presence many times –
now I know you are the song
on my pillow, the sudden
streak of light that warms my cheek,
the hand I often feel in mine –
and I wonder would you
have chewed your nails the way I do?
Karen is the author of two poetry collections – Counting Rain (Indigo Dreams, 2012) and The Paper House (Hedgehog Poetry Press, 2019). She is editor, designer and publisher of the pamphlets Book of Sand, Blueshift and Free-fall, where artists respond to poetry and poets to art. Karen is co-editor of and designs for Against the Grain Poetry Press.
Rosemary for Remembrance
Rub this rosemary between finger and thumb
to escape the walled garden where you walk
the same path. Do not cling like dead roots
to these crumbling bricks. There is more
than one sun. Listen. The river is calling,
rocking the empty boat. There is more
than one heart. I know you’re lost in the lyrics
of don’t be cruel, that each verse for you
is a windowless room. But there is more
than one song. Remember the girl setting out
in the dark, how the moon was an oyster
to be shucked, how each day slid down
your throat. There is more. There is more.
“Still Born is a heart breaking collection of poems which takes the process of grief and passes it back and forth between two accomplished poets. The poems ripple and reflect the personal and the profound nature of loss in a way that allows the reader the space to think and reflect. This is a beautiful collection which shines with love.” Wendy Pratt
All profits from this pamphlet’s sale will go to Sands, the stillbirth and neonatal death charity.
Charity registration numbers – England and Wales (299679) and Scotland (SC042789).
2 thoughts on “still born by Valerie Morton & Karen Dennison”
Thanks so much for giving this room on the Shed x
Yesterday, I had the pleasure of reading my copy of Still Birth for the first time. It’s a conversation and a working through. I’m glad to see two poems from the pamphlet featured at the Shed. The poets keep step with each other like the dancers in Valerie’s poem here. And I love how Karen uses rosemary and memory and her reminder that there is more than one sun. I highly recommend Sill Life!